Entries Tagged 'Affordable Housing' ↓

Sioux Falls Mayor TenHaken taps former Thune and Rounds staffer for Housing Development Manager

Logan Penfield was tapped 2 months ago according to his profile. He does have educational and professional government experience (unlike some of Paul’s past appointments) but I found it interesting that the circles Mr. Penfield runs in probably contributed to his appointment.

When I think of affordable and accessible housing advocacy, the Republican Party usually doesn’t rank high on that list. (FF 9:40 to hear is introduction);

Top Down approach to affordable housing is a ruse

Ever since the Reagan administration introduced trickle-down economics governments across our country have experimented with it. It simply doesn’t work. The concept is that if you give tax breaks to the very top it somehow will help the ones below in better jobs and housing. In fact it has done the opposite, expanding the wealth gap.

The cat was let out of the bag during this interview yesterday that the TIF sponsored housing development in SW Brandon was depending on the tired old broken system of trickle-down;

Meanwhile, Karl Fulmer, the executive director of Affordable Housing Solutions in Sioux Falls, told DNN that these TIF-paid city developments are an effective way of addressing affordable housing.

“The benefit of just building more houses in the $250,000 to $400,000 range still provides the unit, and you can see the transition out of more affordable units from those who might make enough to buy homes in that price range”, Fulmer said.

In other words, these new houses in new “accessible housing” developments actually are not for those most struggling to find affordable housing the most. They are far those who bought smaller, older “starter houses” in town that cost less than $250,000 and are ready to move out of them.

The true affordable housing comes in those starter houses. And the more new “accessible” houses funded by city TIFs that are built, the more those older, smaller houses become available to lower income people.

[insert laughter]

If you speak with anyone in the real estate business they will tell you that these homes are usually owned by lower income people, families, retired folks or rental property, they are not the Jeffersons moving on up. And even if what he was saying was true, most of the homes being sold in this development will go to NEW homeowners not people looking for a step up. In fact, I have argued that many of the starter homes in the lower price range (mostly in the core of the city) have more square feet and bigger yards (and basements) than what these new homes will have.

A better approach would be addressing the housing crisis we have with the people who are having the crisis;

Pat Starr, who represents the northeast district, also told Dakota News Now on Monday that city government is continuing to “dig a hole” by continuing to dig literal holes to build homes partly funded in part by Tax Increment Financing (TIFs).

“We need to talk about the real causes of the housing issues in our city rather than trying to put a band-aid and build 65 houses, which is what this program will do.” Starr said.”

“It’s not the program I’m concerned as much about as as I am figuring out who we’re trying to help. And, it seems to me we have a wage issue more than we have a housing issue.”

We must be giving a helping hand to those who are at the bottom first to lift the other boats. The city has decades long programs in place including low interest Community Development loans and grants. We also need to upgrade the existing infrastructure in our core such as streets and lighting. We can do all this using existing money in our 2nd penny and Federal dollars.

The president of Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, which helps people with payment on houses in rural and suburban communities surrounding Sioux Falls, disagrees.

“If you look at wage growth around the country and in the Sioux Falls market in the last three years, it’s been astronomical,” Jesse Fonkert said.

While wages have increased in SF, inflation and housing costs have been beyond astronomical and have wiped away any wage increases.

But Fonkert does agree with Starr’s assessment that continuing these city-funded housing projects is not solving the affordable housing crisis.

“It’s a challenging situation, because if you spend too much money on government programming, you’ll have companies that will just hike their prices up,” Fonkert said.

Notice the Sioux Steel District and Cherapa II projects didn’t announce they were building hundreds of units of affordable housing after receiving a combined TIF payout of $50 million. Developers will always go where the money is, and that is how a FREE market system works. But tax rebates for parking ramps attached to condos isn’t fixing anything it’s just making that wealth gap larger.

Mayor TenHaken pens rare Op Ed

Imagine my surprise when I found this Op Ed by the Mayor in the Argus today. I can’t remember the last time he wrote an Op Ed in the Argus (or should we say one of his minions). I suspect there has been some push back by VIPs in the community about crime prevention;

Our per-capita violent crime rates have been largely flat for the past decade, and that is true again for 2022.

While this is true when you compare to population growth, the crimes have become more violent and drug related. I’m not putting this entirely on PTH, even though he has had 4 years to do something about it. The past two police chiefs essentially hid in their offices doing little to address the drug related crimes. Chief Thum has decided to tackle it with 1,000 times more transparency than the last couple of guys but he does need the mayor, his boss, to step up.

The Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative was set up to intentionally begin addressing challenges we were seeing with juvenile crime. 

I commend this program. Mentoring is essential to help keep youth out of trouble. After winning re-election PTH handed the program over to the HelpLine Center. I’m fine with that except when an elected official starts an initiative they need to stick with even after leaving office. It’s one thing to applaud mentoring programs but on the other hand turn them over to a private entity.

Crime largely has to do with economic status. I don’t believe middle class and lower middle class individuals in Sioux Falls ever fully recovered from the 2008 recession in which wages were frozen for several years. While businesses complain they can’t find workers and can’t afford to pay more, the problem is they never kept up to begin with, wages were stagnant for over a decade while the cost of housing has skyrocketed. The math just doesn’t add up.

It’s the tale of two cities. Over the summer I have decided to ride my bike through neighborhoods (logging almost 3,000 miles since last November) and came to the conclusion that 18th street (west to east) is the dividing line. The further South you go the better the residential neighborhoods, the further North, not so much. While there are pockets like extreme NE and NW for the most part the city is divided in economic status, infrastructure upgrades and housing.

When Janet Brekke was on the council she pushed hard for a pilot program to fix up some of these neighborhoods which would have required a heavy lift from the city when it comes to infrastructure. The solution the city offered was slab on grade tract homes between Brandon and Washington HS. Hardly what Brekke was envisioning. If we don’t address building density in our core for affordable housing in this community ASAP I’m afraid crime is only going to get worse.

Fighting crime means fighting for a more sustainable economy in Sioux Falls, FOR EVERYONE! As that line on 18th street gets wider crime is only going to rise.

City of Sioux Falls planning affordable housing development in Southwest Brandon

Well not quite Brandon, but almost. (FF 1:30)

As I understand it the development is in between Washington HS and the city of Brandon on a current empty lot. They will use a TIF to help pay for the roads and utilities. The most affordable houses will be slab on grade (NO basements, not even unfinished), 1,000 sq ft, single stall garage, $250K.

I think a better approach would be building NO attached garage and putting in unfinished basements with egress windows so the basements could be finished later and a garage.

What is silly about this is that when we have talked about building density in our core and providing more affordable housing this was NOT what people were asking for. But it should be NO surprise since the public had ZERO input and the councilors were met with privately about the plan. This video is the first time anyone from the public has heard about it.

I think doing a pilot program in central Sioux Falls would have been a better way to go. You pick a 8 block area that needs some help. The city could use a TIF to rebuild the roads, sewer, water, sidewalks, curb and gutter and street lighting. Community Development could provide loans to fix up the homes in the affected area and Affordable Housing Solutions could demo and buy up empty lots for new housing in the area. Building slab on grade houses next to Brandon with no apparent public transit service will do little to solve our affordable housing issues in the core of Sioux Falls.

Rumors still circulating about 9th & Grange greenspace

The Cathedral and Pettigrew Heights neighborhood associations have already made it clear they do NOT want the greenspace and community gardens at 9th & Grange to be used for affordable housing. Both associations have shown that there are plenty of empty lots and houses that need to be torn down throughout both neighborhoods that can be used to move affordable houses to the neighborhood without using the greenspace.

As I mentioned in the past both associations have plenty of evidence that the school district and the city have been quietly working behind the scenes to take over this space for affordable housing.

A person who attended the most recent Pettigrew Heights association meeting said a city official(?) told some of the attendees that there is still a plan to move affordable houses to the greenspace (Sanford expansion was mentioned).

The land is currently owned by the School District and they may have to get an appraisal on the land before transferring it. If that happens the school board and the city council would have to approve a land transfer (there may be some legal issues with usage). The city could take it over as a park or they could try to transfer the land for affordable housing (the city already maintains the space for the school district).

I guess the first place to watch is the school board, who currently make most decisions behind closed doors, then show up to the public meeting to rubber stamp those nontransparent decisions. The agendas will have to be scrutinized closely because they may try to slip it in on the consent agenda.

As of today, the school district maintains they have NO plans for the space . . . but would they tell us if they did?

Homeless advocates email council to vote against Task Force

While I support the task force to combat homelessness, I do agree with a couple of aspects from the people who emailed the city council to oppose it. The data and research has been done for several years, you just need to act and I think the TF should consist of stakeholders in the neighborhood, not friends of the mayor and council. Michelle makes some good points about the opportunity to act over the years. Mayor TenHaken promised in his 1st campaign he would make it a priority, the problem has only gotten worse. It will be an interesting debate tonight.

The first email is from former city councilor Michelle Erpenbach;

Good afternoon, City Council members.

Thank you for your service, and for taking a few minutes to review my reasons for asking you to vote no tomorrow on item 76 — against yet another Homeless Task Force. I would be there in person Tuesday, but I will be working in a neighborhood where Thrive’s Kid Link initiative is supporting programming that seeks to help prevent homelessness among children in our schools.

Homelessness is a complex topic that does not have a single silver-bullet solution. It takes many individuals and organizations with like minds and missions, working collaboratively! Your proposed new task force would splinter existing efforts while ignoring work that has been done recently — and continues to be done – by city staff, Helpline and other local non-profits, members of the Thrive Housing Action Team, and by the city/county Accessible Housing Advisory Board.

It’s time to stop studying and start doing, friends. I’m happy to schedule time to help you catch up with this important topic. In the meantime, please review these links and my comments:

  1. Thrive Housing Action Team (including city, county, and federal staff!) created a Housing Retention Specialist in 2021. Pilot program at East River Legal Services has successfully prevented eviction for 9 families and their children in just a year of operation. The real need? City partnership to take this from pilot to sustainability. Read more: https://siouxfallsthrive.org/children-families-secure-housing/. These conversations are already in the works.
  2. The Accessible Housing Advisory Board, city staff Amos Abu, and a variety of housing stakeholders including Helpline Center and Thrive are working on a Housing Navigation Portal that will help connect tenants with potential housing that meets their existing needs and budget. The real need? Council support and funding to help make the portal a reality.
  3. Former city housing staff (Chellee Unruh) met with clients of the St. Francis House and others to learn more about specific needs from that unique community. The real need? I would recommend reviewing this existing data, so you get a better understanding of this topic from the people living it every day.
  4. Thrive Housing Action Team (again, including city, county, and federal staff) created the OneRoof project that is providing wraparound services for those families who are most difficult to house. This is no longer a pilot and is thriving inside The Community Outreach. Read more: https://siouxfallsthrive.org/oneroof-evaluation/The real need? City support for the unmet needs that some of these folks continue to have.
  5. City/county project Just Home is tackling homelessness for those people impacted by the justice system. The real need? Council members to become well-versed in this important project and ready to support proposals that will come your way within months.
  6. Key non-profits are providing services for our unhoused neighbors. The real need? City council members to acknowledge the important work of St. Francis House, Bishop Dudley and UGM, and encourage them to work together in a stronger spirit of collaboration.
  7. Finally, the biggest need is for more local money without state/federal strings attached for building housing that is affordable to the poorest of our neighbors. Those in the 30% of AMI range. This comes in the form of a Housing Trust Fund. Even Rapid City has an HTF now and it is fully funded while the city of Sioux Falls didn’t grasp the idea when it was proposed 10 years ago. Thrive’s Housing Action Team is taking the challenge and will have a presentation for you in the coming months.

Again, please don’t splinter ongoing work and collaborations. Please encourage the city to instead join these organizations in building a better partnership and collective impact.

Stop studying and start doing.

Michelle Erpenbach

President

Sioux Falls Thrive

The second email is from Anny Libengood from Minnehaha County Human Services;

Hi, I am a social worker and was a front line worker at Human Services for 18 years. Most recently I was the Housing Navigator. During this time, I became closely and extensively involved in the lives of many vulnerable people in addition to learning the inner workings of community resources. 

The first thing elected leaders need to do is educate themselves on what work and research has already been done. They need to know what programs are out there, have been out there, and what programs need to shift and what programs need to stop duplicating services/resources. About 15 years ago, we had a 10 year plan to end homelessness as did many communities. We also had the Homeless Advisory Board that did extensive work and research. Did we implement anything? No. Fast forward 15 years and we now have TWO Augustana research studies telling us what the community needs to do. The research was extensive and included perspectives of front line staff and those experiencing homelessness. What have we done with these studies? Checked the box that we did them, I guess. “We” just keep creating groups because “we” can’t figure out what to do. (Thrive, Forward SF, Empower, AHAB, Sioux Empire Leadership Council, etc. etc.) and then none of them talk to each other. Stop studying the problem over and over again. It’s time to start the work. 

A couple of reasons the Bishop Dudley police calls have tripled is because the former director was a former police officer. It was easy for the calls to not be “logged”- and yes this is true. He told me this himself when I was providing case management to the homeless families staying there. He didn’t want the neighborhood or powers above him to see the calls and start complaining. Also, his no trespass list was longer than my arm. The current director has to go through regular police call protocols and she is trying to respect the mission of the BDHH which is Open Doors, Open Arms.

Please reconsider this Task Force and Study idea. I am willing to help educate. All you have to do is ask.

Thank you. I plan to be at the council meeting tomorrow.

Mayor TenHaken says Sioux Falls is a nice place to live, work, play & be homeless

Don’t take my word for it;


“There’s no good way to say this, but we are a nice community to be homeless in,” he said. By that, he means that our social service agencies such as The Banquet and Bishop Dudley Hospitality House are strong, well-run organizations. The churches in Sioux Falls are financially stable. The people are generous.



I become less surprised each time Poops tells us exactly what he thinks. First he didn’t sign up for the job, then he thinks candidates are jealous of him when he uses inside information to benefit his campaign, then he is angry about alleged pervert cops now he acts like living homeless in Sioux Falls is the lap of luxury.

It is amazing how incredibly tone deaf our mayor is. He has NO clue of the amount of slum housing and poverty we have in this city, and he doesn’t seem to care, as long as the non-profits take care of it for us.

The city has the resources to make public transit, employment and housing better, but they live in the shiny glass house on the hill and wish the minions below the best of luck.

Many of our issues with food insecurity, housing, addiction and employment could be simply fixed by seeking higher wage employers to which Poops response is ‘we can’t continue this wage inflation, it’s not sustainable.’ But I guess we can continue to allow non-profits to bail out the poor?

City of Sioux Falls Finally gets it together on housing, maybe?

So after our unemployment rates drops to almost zero, and we have more warehouse jobs than workers, the city finally engages on a housing plan, read it HERE.

While Director Matt Tobias’ (not sure what his title is since the Poops Admin likes to make up fancy titles every 3 months) presentation was the best I am not sure why it took a decade and a massive board to finally implement a plan just a couple of months from a city election. Matt made great points that I have been harping about for years like promoting the community development programs, increasing the income level of qualification and pushing for up to $30K loans at 0% interest.

Like I said, glad to see the wheels turning, but I am also wondering why it took so long. We have known for over a decade that the city was growing at an enormous rate and density in our core was crucial. Many administrations, private non-profits, councilors and developers have talked about it. In fact I attempted to bring in the Strongtown’s founder over 10 years ago to speak on it, but I couldn’t get enough people to help donate to his gas money and hotel room. When he eventually came, I had to chuckle when people said to me if I had heard of him.

I will tell you why it has taken so long to get the ball rolling; GREED and the cornfields are running out.

Just listen to what Greg Neitzert said about it, once again defending the developers and contractors and how gosh darn it, they need to make money or the plan won’t work. I agree, anyone in business for themselves needs to make a profit and they need to eat, but I have rarely met a large developer in this town that is living in central Sioux Falls in a 900 sq ft home. With their profit margins, no state income tax, low labor costs and multiple tax incentives, they do ok. There is absolutely NO reason why they can’t do projects in the core building density and NOT make money.

I also look at this as LOCAL economic development. Most of the smaller contractors that do this kind of work are local, they live here, their workers live here and likely they buy materials and tools here. That all gets recirculated into the economy.

Don’t fool yourself, these policies have been researched for a long time, but like most things in this city and even country, if someone can’t figure out how to gouge the consumer the feckless leaders don’t act. This is one of the main reasons it infuriated me that they are asking for a raise. I guess they think they need to be paid more for doing less.

Sioux Falls CountCilor Jensen continues to push useless trickle-down policies when it comes to housing

You know what they say, even if you know your are wrong, never admit it, just dig in deeper. During the latest episode of Inside Town Hall in which Councilor Brekke tells us to eat more vegetables and drive electric cars, Jensen continues to push the narrative that if we just give contractors and developers even more tax breaks we will get more housing (he supports legislative proposals that would create entire neighborhood TIFs, instead of individual homeowners and a rebate of excise taxes to contractors). While at the same time promoting (low-wage) workers to live someplace else. When it comes to affordable and accessible housing, it starts at the bottom, not at the top. But not in Sioux Falls, hand all the TIFilicious goodies to the ones at the top hoping they will throw us some crumbs while spray painting the poorer neighborhoods sidewalks.

And why would we NOT think Alex’s plan wouldn’t work? He works at the number #1 bank in the Nation, and he had no problem advertising the place while appearing on a tax payer funded program. Actually surprised me because every time he sits on the dais at Carnegie he has no problem flaunting his SF City Council logo wear puffy vest we all paid for (even though I suggested they just all get magnetic badges instead). It must have been at the cleaners when he recorded this show so he had to wear his primary employer’s vest instead.

City of Sioux Falls Housing Funding is Hypocritical

First off, many have wondered what happened to the housing coordinator. Not sure if Chellee Unruh was terminated or quit, but I guess she departed in April with no fanfare and no press release from City Hall. Seems a lot of Paul’s directors seem to disappear these days in the dark of night. There are often rumors of termination but no verifications from the big man himself. He must be busy taking selfies on bike rides or something. There was even a funny rumor a few weeks ago that Stoneless fired a public works minion (personally) after a citizen video-taped him flipping the bird. Not sure if that is true, but if it is, I got a good laugh. Hope he gave him a hug and a Guadd Bles Yah before he walked off.

Either or on housing, yesterday at the informational meeting a non-profit wants $500K from the city for a victim’s home for women saved from the sex trafficking industry. While I have no issues with this funding (except that they are probably one of those Christian conversion places) I find it a bit ironic that this administration AND police department can’t get a handle on all the illegal massage going on in our community when they know exactly where these places are. Heck, everyone knows where they are. You would have to be a complete dolt to not know where to get a tug and rub in Sioux Falls!

I think if I was on the council I would include an extra $1 million to the sex crimes unit with the PD to show that they are serious about it, I would also get the new Police Chief to make it his top priority. Kind of seems pointless to help a victim’s home if we are not going to do anything to stop these businesses in Sioux Falls. Isn’t prevention the key?

Also, doesn’t anyone find it a bit odd when these rare stings happen, the ‘victims’ are always apprehended but somehow the Johns and Pimps slip a way? Things that make you go Hmmmm.